Pisasale finds god, ‘thinks he can be mayor again’
DISGRACED former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has found God and begged for mercy and forgiveness from his prison cell.
His mea culpa comes with a bizarre suggestion that he may even run again for public office.
A prison chaplain said he believed Pisasale was genuine in rekindling his Christian faith and seeks to atone for a sinful life that led him to be jailed for 33 charges ranging from fraud to corruption and perjury and extortion and the possession unlawful possession drugs to enhance his sex life.
Mr Pisasale, who can apply for parole on his 70th birthday next year, wants to make a fresh start in the Ipswich community and has the backing to start a nursery on an abandoned mine site at Collingwood Park, Ipswich, if he wins his freedom.
Others are sceptical, suggesting the charismatic former mayor was a seasoned conman who seeks his freedom so he can collect his $1.5m council superannuation nest egg.
There are persistent rumours in Ipswich council that Mr Pisasale wants to be mayor again, even though his criminal record almost certainly precludes him from running for public office.
"If he did, he might surprise everyone and win," said one councillor.
"He is enormously popular. Remember he got more than 83 percent of the vote the last time he stood in 2016."
A Labor Party official said Mr Pisasale's daughter Lisa, his former campaign manager, would likely run for public office to preserve the Pisasale name while her father rehabilitated his reputation.
Meanwhile, Mr Pisasale believes his time in prison may have saved his life.
With a hectic life of public engagements, red wine drinking and late-night sex parties, he suffered some impaired co-ordination after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With an alcohol-free diet and a strict exercise regime inside high-security Wolston Correctional Centre in Ipswich, Pisasale had told visitors his health had taken a dramatic turn for the better.
Pisasale spends hours in quiet contemplation and seeks comfort by reading books on philosophy and religion.
The prison has a range of books with Christian themes for inmates. Chaplains bring more.
A source familiar with prison life said the former mayor has access to a special lounge where model prisoners can meet and watch television at night - and make toast and cups of tea.
Presbyterian chaplain Trevor Kucks from Ipswich Central Church regularly visits Mr Pisasale and helped him reconnect with his Catholic faith.
Mr Kucks, a towering figure in Ipswich religious life, agreed to a formal interview to speak about Mr Pisasale's road ahead, but later withdrew on the advice of prison officials.
Former Police Minister Jo-Anne Miller, who quit politics after being diagnosed with breast cancer, said Mr Pisasale was a conman not to be believed.
"He thinks he can be mayor again," she said. "I would not be surprised to see him try to make a comeback.
"I believe it, I am not kidding."
Ms Miller first warned of Mr Pisasale's corrupt conduct to Premier Peter Beattie in 2006, and later to Premiers Anna Bligh and Annastacia Palaszczuk.
She said she was not taken seriously, although she did have several interviews with the Crime and Corruption Commission after being referred there by Mr Beattie.
She said Labor figures persistently attacked her for blowing the whistle against a Labor colleague. They did not want a black mark against the party because Mr Pisasale was an enormously popular Labor mayor, she said.
Ms Miller said Mr Pisasale hid a dark side behind his jovial larrikin media persona.
"He fooled them all; press, radio and television," she said.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding is known to be reviled by Mr Pisasale's behaviour, especially for sexually assaulting a young female council worker he forcibly kissed and touched in the council office. However, she declined to comment.
Recently she said the Pisasale era was dead and that city was moving forward after the most shameful chapter in its history.
ROAD TO RUIN TO ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Paul Pisasale: Born September 9, 1951
■ Cleared of wrongdoing in 1999 after becoming entangled in the "Net Bet' affair
■ Mayor of Ipswich 2004-2017
■ Avid collector of china cups
■ Named Queensland Local Hero by the National Australia Day Council, 2010
■ Awarded Queensland Civil Justice Award for "going beyond the call of duty" in the 2011 floods
■ Investigated by the CCC for alleged conflict of interest and election funding irregularities in 2014. Investigation suspended.
■ Stopped at Melbourne airport carrying bag containing $50,000 and Mayoral office raided by CCC in 2017
■ Convicted of extortion in 2019 after pretending to be a private investigator and demanding $10,000 from an individual
■ Pleaded guilty to perjury, fraud, corruption, and sexual assault in 2019-20 and jailed
■ Finds God in jail
■ Eligible for parole in October 2022
Originally published as Pisasale finds god, 'thinks he can be mayor again'